Faced with the pressure to squeeze what seems to be a 25-hour workload into a 24-hour day, I admit that I can fall behind on current events. And, admittedly, watching an episode of my favorite TV show has tempted me away from reading the New York Times, especially when apocalyptic news of hurricanes and stock crashes seize the front page.

I have been viewing these historic moments from a distant lens. My queasy sense of foreboding, however, is put off by the veil of more pressing matters, such as getting through the line at Douglass Dining Center. While it is easy to get caught up in day-to-day troubles, it is important that even those guiltiest of this behavior learn about the broader issues plaguing the world.

Doomsday analysts speak of the economic climate as if the United States were plunging headfirst into another Great Depression. The mortgage crisis has taken a tone of hysteria, but economists’ cries remind me more of what I would be reading in a history textbook rather than witnessing on the news. The problems run deeper than students becoming informed because it takes an extra effort to reflect on how this might affect them.

Granted, UR is not located in the financial capital of the world or Washington, D.C., but it’s worrisome to reflect on an issue and realize it could be a nightmarish moment from a fairytale. I try to reassure myself that it will all be OK in the end, when I wake up; at least I have hoped to find myself in a booming market when I graduate in three years. I feel that this is an ignorant, foolishly optimistic trap that too many students fall into and I myself am guilty.

Despite students’ apparent distance from the issues at hand, the core problems should hit close to home. At 19 years old, I do not own a house nor have any particular investments of great value at risk. However, the answers that Congress and the President settle on will affect the rest of our lives. Our generation will need to take responsibility for the current government’s massive bailout of financial firms. Some financial institutions will be permanently changed, especially if Congress passes new laws of oversight. The instability of the lending industry may mean implications for students who will take out loans to attend private universities. What seems like the distant future may be entirely changed by the actions the government takes in the next few weeks.

The issues that have dominated the presidential campaign thus far have been the novelty of the candidates. It is easy to pass over both John McCain’s and Barack Obama’s platforms and focus on the glamour issues and media sound bytes, but in these last few days the public has relearned the importance that the executive and legislative branches have in shaping economic policy, mostly by preventing disasters with increased oversight and sweeping bail-outs. An informed opinion is the first step, but students should take a further proactive step to vote for candidates who they feel will address these problems.

I believe it is necessary to consider how today’s woes will indeed affect us both now, even while we are spending our days in the library and dormitories, and the long-run implications once we graduate, whether it is in three years or this spring.

Leber is a member of the class of 2011.



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